with Lynne and Leslie
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Lynne and Leslie Ask Each Other Random Christmas Questions. You Are Welcome.

by SweetMidlife

Merry Christmas from The Sweet Midlife! This has been a year of many ups, and many downs, and we have had a bunch of both in our families. And here we are, at Christmas, determined to have a good holiday not in spite of the losses we have gone through this year, but to savor this holiday BECAUSE we know how precious it is to still have what we do have. We also hold onto the part of the holiday that celebrates the coming of Jesus, and that gives us hope, but even if you don’t celebrate that part, our wish for you is that you find that hope somewhere this season, and find some joy.

Since we can’t be together this Christmas, we, Lynne and Leslie, thought that we would have an online conversation of sorts by asking each other Holiday-themed questions. Let’s see what happens. Leslie answers first.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Lynne asks: “What are you doing tomorrow? Also, Willis, what are you saying?”

Leslie: I am going to a friend’s for dinner and bringing wine. Is it bad when people only want you to bring wine? What are you trying to say, Friend? You’re saying I can’t cook? Boom. I’m making a banana pudding just because and I like it so if you don’t want it I’ll take it. Why am I arguing with myself?

Also…Willis is over your tired question. Since, like, 1979.

Lynne asks: “What is the best Hallmark-y type movie you have watched this year? And was Hayley Duff in it? She is in all the movies. 

Leslie: The only Hayley movie I saw was “His Secret Family,” and it was NOT a Christmas movie. It was a “Girl, background checks! Hello?” movie. Also, when your insane husband who had a secret family says he only needs one family now, he’s coming to kill you. Why are you still in your house? My favorite was “A Baby For Christmas” on Up, because Neil and Drucilla were back together! (Amirite, “Young and the Restless” fans?)

Lynne asks: “Holiday baking question: Why should we believe it’s not butter? Shouldn’t it always be butter?”

Leslie: Butter is the reason I will likely never be vegan. Sorry, cows. I appreciate your service.

Lynne asks: “What was your favorite Christmas memory from our childhood? I can’t wait to hear this.”

Leslie: That time that we didn’t get our tree until Christmas Eve, again, and a family friend said she knew a guy who delivered them door-to-door and I was like “If this tree is fugly we can’t take it back and you’re gonna feel obligated to pay for it and then we have a fugly tree,” but we were all lazy and Daddy was like “I’m not paying for an ugly tree” and sure enough the dude came at like 8 p.m. and it was the Charlie Brown tree’s sicklier cousin. I mean, he was coughing like Satine in “Moulin Rouge!” But we had no more options and we paid for it, because the guy was there and no one wanted to turn it down and seem rude. #getyourtree

Lynne asks: “Snow Miser: Misunderstood Genius over-shadowed by his flashier brother?”

Leslie: Snow Miser is the Jan Brady of Christmas, meaning that he has to discover his own groove. #I’mtoomuch

OK, this is Leslie. Lynne’s turn to answer. Let’s do this.

 

I always feel like a snowman's watching me... actually, I don't. That would be weird.

I always feel like a snowman’s watching me… actually, I don’t. That would be weird.

Leslie asks: “Do you suppose Rudolph ever snapped because of childhood memories of being bullied and then totally used for his nose-glowing, or just waited till he had tenure and started his own rival delivery service? Cause I would have.”

Lynne: I don’t think he snapped. I think that he held onto that and became famous after writing his memoirs, titled “Turn On Your Noselight: How I Overcame Oppression and Now Run This Reindeer Thing.” The alternate title was “How You Like Me Now, Blitzen?”

Leslie asks: “If last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away, how did I get it back to be able to give it to someone special? And how bad of a friend was Andrew Ridgely for poaching George’s girl in that video?”

Lynne: I think the guy she gave it to pawned it so he could buy more short-shorts, because that’s what people wore in Wham! videos. George heard it was at the shop, and got it back. And I can’t hate on Andrew. He wanted something to do afterawhile.

Leslie asks: “Is making “My Favorite Things’ into a holiday song just a naked ode to materialism? And would Maria approve?”

Lynne: It might be. Maria was all about recycling, hence curtain-based playclothes. And you didn’t ask, but I feel like I should shout out to The Baronness. Whattup, Barronness. Oh, what if Maria remade Salt N Pepa’s “I’ll Take Your Man” and sang it to the Baronness and had Gretel as her own Spinderella? Huh? I would buy that record.

Leslie asks: “Where is this Barnes and Noble that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett hang out, and can you think of any other duo it would be fun to run into while holiday shopping?”

Lynne: I WISH I could run into them, but if they showed up at our B&N, we probably would have missed them because we had to go home because we wouldn’t let the 3 year-old eat all the Starbucks cake pops.

Leslie asks: So what’s your favorite Christmas memory at Casa Streeter?

So many. Ooh, you started it with the Christmas Eve tree procrastination-turned-tradition tales. There was the year we waited so late on Christmas Eve to get our tree from the lot at the parking lot of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, where the Orioles and Colts used to play, and by the time we got there, the dude who worked there had gone home and left all of the trees there for people to take for free.. And this was before everyone had cell phones, but I remember people on their carphones (Daddy had one!) calling their friends going “Pookie! You better come get you a tree, Yo. It’s free!”

SO, thus concludes Streeter Twin Christmas Convo time. What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

 

 

 

 

 


Today’s best thing: The “Love” channel on Sirius XM, and the sweet, sweet sap of it all

by SweetMidlife

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After 20 years of car ownership, mostly as a single woman, I had my first experience of having someone else pick my car out for me, which I liked. This is not a statement on feminism or anything. My husband and I share expenses, but it happened to be my turn for a car, and this one was in his name, so while I was inside talking to the people, Scott went outside and chose between the two cars we’d test-driven, for three reasons: One, because he wanted to do something nice for me as a gift of sorts; two, because it was a cute little Kia Soul like all the cool hamsters drive, and he liked the idea of me driving a car with my red ‘fro against a seat that had the word “Soul” repeatedly printed on it. I feel like a commercial for some hip product that would never have me on the commercial.

And three: Because of the already-installed Sirius XM satellite radio. I never had it before, except in select rental cars and whenever my dad wasn’t looking and I got to drive his Honda CR-V. But it’s amazing, because not only can you listen to the newer music of the day, if you so choose, you can also just pretend it’s still 1987, or 1977 or 1998 (Backstreet’s back, all right!) by sticking to the decade specific station of your choice. OR you can pretend that the world is a giant American Top 40 Long-Distance Dedication and just park on Channel 17, also called “Love.”

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“Love” reminds me of the light rock stations of my teens and 20s, where the rest of the world was into Duran Duran or Prince, but that one station was doubling down on England Dan and John Ford Coley and Bread. Lots of Bread. Enough to make you want to cry and go check on singer David Gates, because that dude was depressed. But it was glorious – I loved studying to those stations in college, because they were background enough not to be distracting but had lyrics stirring enough to keep me awake. Songs about finding your beloved’s diary and reading it thinking you were finding out how much she loved you and then realizing she wasn’t writing about you? That sticks with you.

“Love” is just like those stations, but without the commercials. It’s amazing the stuff they come up with – in 48 hours I heard both the Rita Coolidge and Boz Scaggs versions of “We’re All Alone,” which made me happier than it should. Yesterday they played 4PM’s version of “Sukiyaki,” and an Air Supply song I can’t even remember because I was too excited to be hearing Air Supply on the radio in 2015.

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I have never been cool, so I don’t care what anyone thinks of me gushing over possible 24/7 access to Barry Manilow and Anne Murray. Its what I like. And it’s not just me, because there’s a whole station appropriate for spontaneous hand-holding at lights, or crying, in the case of Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are.” Your car is your fortress, and my kid and my husband have learned not to touch the radio if I’m driving. I’ll listen to other stuff, but Love is my default.

LOVE SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOUR DEFAULT.

 


When Weddings Attack….And Love Fights Back

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! The following is the personal account of the activity and, well, craziness that surrounded the nuptials of our best friend/kinda triplet Nikki Turner Lewis and her now-husband, Sam. It really was like something out of a movie, except you couldn’t really write the stuff that happened. But darn it if it was not one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been to. The love that these two have? Well, it outweighed everything that went wrong. Which is good. Here is Nikki telling her story.

1. Sam had a stroke-like episode and couldn’t work for a while, so we had to re-plan the wedding in about a month.

2. Due to his medical problems, he couldn’t fly, so there was some worry about whether the groom would get there in time for the wedding (I had to go to Texas and drive him back to Baltimore). But it was lovely bonding time.

3. The day before the wedding, my mom had to get rushed to the hospital with low blood sugar (she was okay!). In addition to being extraordinarily scared for my mom, I missed my hair and spa appointment. I had to find another hair dresser at the last minute (cuz the one doing my hair was going out of town later that day which is why my hair was scheduled for early the day before).

4. While getttin’ my hair did, and only having in half my tracks (she was getting a weave, y’all) ), my doc calls and tells me my routine blood work came back and OMG! and I had to rush to the hospital and get re-tested, because if the results were right, I was a ticking time bomb and needed to be admitted.

5. At hospital checking blood work, I get two idiots who didn’t understand what STAT meant and tried to tell me that my wedding rehearsal wasn’t important enough for them to rush results. Fortunately a female PA came in, listened to me and my sis cry about what was going on and got me out of there with CORRECT and NON-LETHAL blood work so I could get to my wedding rehearsal on time where I found out…

 6…that the photographer had a heart attack on the plane on the way from Austin to Baltimore and was in a hospital in Chicago (where the plane had a layover)
7. Fortunately, Sam’s friend Myq (who is also a photographer) came to the wedding and he stood in for us. We also had the mom of the flower girl taking pictures (and she did a really great job!).

8. I had to leave my own wedding rehearsal dinner to go the the nail place at Owings Mills Mall to get my nails done. That was my spa time.

9. The day of the wedding, the make-up person was 45 minutes late, which put me behind schedule. Then…

10. The flowers were late because some drawbridge in Baltimore got stuck open and the florist couldn’t get them delivered on time. So I wound up getting to the ceremony an hour late.
11. Oh!! And because the flowers were late, my two best friends couldn’t even ride with me in the limo (cuz they had to get the flowers to the menfolk at the church), which was something I REALLY wanted to happen.
12. Somehow, my mother didn’t get walked down the aisle by my brother-in-law (which totally wasn’t his fault) like she should have – which honestly STILL bothers me. Mom should NOT have to walk down the aisle by herself.
13. There was some mix-up with missed song lyrics and arrangements, and there was no music playing when the wedding party left, which was kinda eerie.
BUT….

1. It was a beautiful sunny day.

She is so pretty, says the writers of this blog, and everyone with eyes.

2. We all got to witness the ring bearer be coaxed down the aisle by my brother with candy. Everyone should witness this once in their life.

3. Our mothers both spoke and gave advice that made everyone cry.

4. The ceremony was full of love. (Says Lynne. Who was a bridesmaid and could see everything)

5. There were tears all around, including the Groom, the Mother of the Bride (who is NOT a crier), and the singing bridesmaids.

6. The pastor based her message on “The Princess Bride”, and that is awesome.

7. We have beautiful memories of people we love that aren’t here anymore, like my mother-in-law and Uncle Butch.

8. The reception was a tea, and my beloved Sam prepared most of it, and all of our friends pitched in to set it up, including the wife of our eventual photographer, who happens to be a chef.  (And it was BEAUTIFUL and lovely and comfy. -Lynne)

9. There was eating and laughing and loving.

10. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful cake. Look in the bottom corner.

11. But most of all, this happened….

So it was a good day.


Why I Love Weddings

by SweetMidlife

Wedding Week continues. Today, Good Friend Elicia writes about a beautiful wedding that she went to last week. It’s like a review of the most romantic movie EVAH. Enjoy.

by Elicia McIntyre

Photo Credit: Bridget Thornton

An ex-boyfriend once teased me for loving what he called the “pageantry” of weddings. Well, guilty as charged. I’ve always loved weddings! I love it all – the invitations, the fashion, the flowers, the first dance, the tipsy rambling speeches, and the rhythm-challenged guests (there are always a few at every wedding). I love to see everyone having a good time. Most of all, I love to see two people commit to each other and begin a lifelong journey. I enjoy entertaining and event planning, and I’ll admit that I’ve watched shows like TLC’s A Wedding Story, Four Weddings and Style Network’s “Whose Wedding is it Anyway?” (a show about wedding planners).

I also enjoy the anticipation of seeing how each wedding will be a unique experience and reflection of the couple:

  • Will the bride cry walking down the aisle or during the vows?
  • Will the groom cry when he sees her for the first time?
  • Buffet, food stations or a sit-down meal?
  • Will the couple have the traditional head table or enjoy their first meal as husband and wife at a sweetheart table?
  • Cake smashers or cake feeders?
  • Dramatic honeymoon exit or will they stay til the end of the party?

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending one of the most Christ-centered, joy-filled weddings ever – the union of my friends Stephanie and Matthew. Steph and Matt’s story is a God story, without a doubt. They were friends for a few years before either of them had any romantic feelings. About a month or so after they started dating, while the rest of us were watching the 2012 Summer Games on TV, Steph broke her leg during an attempted Olympic-inspired long jump. (Don’t ask. She’s all healed now.) Someone captured a picture of Matt carrying Stephanie with her bandaged leg. She had to be in tremendous pain, yet they both had huge grins on their faces. Matt carried her in the same valiant way as they made their grand entrance as husband and wife at their wedding reception. This touched me not just as a romantic gesture, but as a symbol of the way he’s cared for her during their courtship, and a statement of how he intends to care for his wife throughout their life together.

Everyone who attended the wedding agreed that joy was the theme of the day. Joy goes beyond happiness and comes from a deep well, with God at the center. The bride’s father gave the blessing over the reception meal and reminded us that Steph and Matt first found the Lord before finding each other.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. Rather than having the standard Scripture readings and other religious traditions (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), the ceremony focused on the practical wisdom the couple will need in order to live out their vows on a daily basis.

Pastor Mich asked the couple to consider what’s good, better, and best for their marriage, always choosing to treat each other “extra special.” He encouraged Matt to lead (not dictate or lord over) and love Stephanie in the way that Jesus modeled. He urged Stephanie to support Matt and not defeat him. Pastor Mich reminded them that they won’t always feel “in love” throughout this lifelong commitment. He advised them not to have an exit strategy. I wonder how much the divorce rate would decrease if every couple adopted this mindset?

The couple vowed to love, honor, and respect, recognizing each other as a gift from God .

I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and there were a few elements to this ceremony I’d not seen before. The first occurred at the beginning, when Pastor Mich asked the couple to turn around and take a look at the family and friends that came to support them. So often, I hear couples say their wedding day was a blur. I love that Stephanie and Matthew had a chance to take the moment in. Another twist was the invitation of all the family members to be a part of the unity sand ceremony. I’ve often seen the bride and groom’s parents participate in unity candle lighting, but this gesture symbolized the joining together of two entire families.

During the cocktail hour, I felt a tap on my shoulder – I turned around and it was the bride. The wedding party had taken all of their photos before the ceremony. I think it’s awesome that the couple got to enjoy every aspect of their wedding and spend time celebrating with those closest to them. Taking notes for my special day!

The reception was well-paced – no long gaps between events. We had just the right amount of time to enjoy dinner before dancing.

I’ve always preferred DJs over wedding bands, but I gotta say, the band was PHENOMENAL. Okay, maybe I have *slight* friend bias because they all use their musical gifts in our church’s praise and worship band, but for those of you not familiar, let me tell you there is NOTHING the “Shunda” band can’t do. After they opened with The Jackson 5 (“I Want You Back”), I did not sit down –Okay, I sat out one line dance (“Cupid Shuffle”) simply because I was overheated and desperately needed water. But it allowed me to get this awesome shot of my friends on the dance floor:

Okay, there was one other time I sat down and that was to eat wedding cake – which was delicious and moist with a raspberry filling. Good wedding cake is a must!

 

We formed a “Love Train” to the sound of the O’Jays. We did all the slides – Electric and Cha-Cha. We did the Wobble. Oh, and did I mention one of the lead singers, my friend Tracey Tiernan of Baltimore’s 95.1 SHINE FM (and a former nightclub and wedding band singer) busted out with Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.” And I just about LOST MY MIND when Mario sang Bruno Mars’ “Locked out of Heaven,” just as good as the original! The band played a tribute to the bride’s Jersey roots with “Living on a Prayer” and all of us 80s kids rejoiced. We did a Soul Train line to “Everybody Dance Now.” At the end of the night, we chanted, “ONE MORE SONG!” until the band acquiesced. They gave us “Respect” (Aretha Franklin) as their encore song. I’ve never been to a wedding where the band says good night and the crowd is still lingering on the dance floor, talking and congratulating the couple.

Seeing my friends so happy last Saturday night put a smile on my face that lasted well into Tuesday. Sometime after their engagement, I remember Stephanie saying, “A year ago, there was no Matt,” referring to just how quickly life can change. Singletons, let this be an encouragement to your heart!

Stephanie and Matthew’s relationship is the real deal. I’m sure both of them would say it was worth waiting for. God is the ultimate matchmaker.

 


Challenge #5! Be a Better (Wife/Friend/Brother/Customer): BE Where You Are

by SweetMidlife

 

Ahh, multitasking.  Whole industries, like drive-through windows, cupholders and Bluetooth devices, make it possible for us to do one thing while we are doing another at the same time.  And while it makes us efficient, lack of focus on ONE thing can get you tarter sauce on your coat from holding a dripping Filet-O-Fish in one hand while you swerve in traffic, holding, the steering wheel in the other.  Messy and dangerous.

This lack of focus has bled over into our personal lives, because you can talk to your Grandma on the phone while you are driving, or while you scan to see who liked your funny status on Facebook, or while you catch up on last night’s DVR’d rerun of Law and Order. And admit it, when you try to do both, you either miss the court verdict, or you have to ask Grandma to repeat where her friends took out for lunch.  When it would have been easier when your phone rang to either pause the TV or turn it off altogether.  Because while you can keep that show on your TIVO forever, that conversation with Grandma is fleeting. And precious. And much more entertaining if you are talking to our grandma because she is the funniest person who ever lived. And sometimes she’s actually TRYING to be funny.

So our challenge is this:  Practice being present with the people who are in front of you (or on the phone with you). Start this way. Try, for 10-minutes, to have a conversation where you are looking directly at the person and actually listening to what they say. Not at the TV. Or at your laptop. Or at your phone. Really be with the people you’re with. It makes them feel really, really valued, and it makes you calmer and happier and more involved.  And happy.  Because Facebook isn’t going anywhere.  Ooh, bonus points for hanging-up your phone when you get to the front of the checkout line and engaging the cashier.  Makes them feel good to be acknowleged not as an automated check-out thing, but as an actual person.

Total disclosure: neither of us (Leslie or Lynne) are particularly naturally good at this. And it has cost us small, precious moments with the people we love. So we will be taking this challenge, too.  Everyone valued. Everyone happier.


Be a Better (Loved One) Challenge #3: Hug Somebody

by SweetMidlife

It’s September 11, a day of reflection, mourning, and remembrance for many people.  It’s a day that makes many think about not just what we’ve lost, but also how blessed we are to have what we have, and the biggest blessing is the other people in our lives. So, today, go up to the people you love, and just wrap your arms around them. Unannounced, no fanfare.  Just walk up, open arms, enfold loved one.  Loving physical touch is so huge, and sometimes says things that words can’t.  See, simple can be beautiful! So go, on. Hug away.


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